Jeetrai Hansdah stood out not for the large number of supporters and vehicles but for his Santhal attire while filing his nomination for Potka Assembly constituency on Monday at the district collectorate here.
Hansdah, 40, National School of Drama graduate, theatre personality and tribal activist, was arrested earlier this year for his May 2017 Facebook posts supporting a beef event. He was released on bail in July.
He came to file his nomination dressed in typical Santhali attire, with a Santhali kapcha and traditional musical instrument banam.
“I wanted to send a message that my objective in fighting the election is to use the opportunity to spread awareness on tribal culture and tradition amongst the young generation while highlighting the wrongdoings of the present government in suppressing tribal self-rule,” said Jeetrai.
He is contesting on a Jharkhand People Party (JPP) ticket.
The banam, a single-string lute or fiddle, is one of the ancient musical instruments of the Santhal tribe. The instrument is made of wood, the lower part is covered with hide and tightened with bamboo pegs.
“I will be carrying the banam during campaigning. The objective is to spread awareness among tribal youth on such traditional musical instruments which are on the verge of extinction. I do not bother much about the poll result as I feel this is an opportunity to interact with a large number of people and inform about our culture, tradition and also on the government attempts to control the tribal lifestyle and oppressive measures on tribals who raised demands of self-rule in various regions of the state,” said Jeetrai.
How will he get supporters for booth management and funds for campaigning?
“I have been a tribal activist for more than two decades, and there are people in almost every panchayat of Potka who will come forward to help me in booth management. Funds do not matter as I have a good group of friends who will pitch in to help me. I do not require much money as I will be campaigning on my bike,” he replied.
“We will not spend on printing publicity materials or flags. Rather, I will focus on street plays and interaction with villagers in their local dialect, Santhal, Kurmi, Bhumij, etc.”
l Potka votes on December 7.